Vegetation canopy water content (CWC) is an important parameter for monitoring natural and agricultural ecosystems.
Previous studies focused on the observation of annual or monthly variations in CWC but lacked temporal details to study
vegetation physiological activities within a diurnal cycle. This study provides an evaluation of detecting vegetation
diurnal water stress using airborne data acquired with the MASTER instrument. Concurrent with the morning and
afternoon acquisitions of MASTER data, an extensive field campaign was conducted over almond and pistachio orchards
in southern San Joaquin Valley of California to collect CWC measurements. Statistical analysis of the field
measurements indicated a significant decrease of CWC from morning to afternoon. Field measured CWC was linearly
correlated to the normalized difference infrared index (NDII) calculated with atmospherically corrected MASTER
reflectance data using either FLAASH or empirical line (EL). Our regression analysis demonstrated that both
atmospheric corrections led to a root mean square error (RMSE) of approximately 0.035 kg/m2 for the estimation of
CWC (R2=0.42 for FLAASH images and R2=0.45 for EL images). Remote detection of the subtle decline in CWC awaits
an improved prediction of CWC. Diurnal CWC maps revealed the spatial patterns of vegetation water status in response
to variations in irrigation treatment.